It is popular to refer to this world as a ‘global village’, because of instant world news and frenetic global travel,. However, it would seem to be more politically correct to speak of the world as a ‘global city’, for there are presently 20 cities of  over 10 million and 482 cities of over a million people. Within 20 years there will be 570. As the 21st century dawned, nearly half of the world’s inhabitants lived in an urban setting. It is projected that by the end of the 21st. century, two-thirds of the world will live in one of 1657 mega cities of over a million inhabitants each. That is phenomenal growth from only 1 mega city in the 19th. century. It is common to speak of conurbations, meaning that more than one city has grown together, such as Tokyo/Yokahama with 28 million people. Mexico city has 18.1 million, NYC has 16.6 million and Sao Paulo 7.7

In the light of world urbanization, it is important to take note that in the last 50 years a new urban blight has emerged known as 'slum communities'. These slum communities include over a billion people living with global urban poverty under the worst living conditions imaginable, including drugs, child labor, child prostitution and appalling sanitation and health conditions. These circumstances have given rise to what is called a 'theology of poverty', seeking to address from a Biblical view, what responsibility Christians face in the controversy over preaching the Gospel and how much involvement is required in facing the social gospel issue. Leslie Newbigin in The Gospel In A Pluralistic Society suggests, most of the world church is made up of the poor.

Urban America is a mission field because most of the 74 percent of Americans who live in the city are unevangelized. The unevangelized are found in every economic level of the city and in all of the various residential areas. Urban America may be divided into two main divisions: the central city in which 30 percent of Americans live, and the suburbs containing 45 percent of the populace.

The central city includes the ghetto, high rises, and affluent residences. A high percentage of those living in the ghetto are poor and ethnic. More ethnics are urbanized than the general populace. The 1990 census reveals that 81 percent of blacks, 88 percent of Hispanics, and 90 percent of Asians are urban. Only Indians fall below the general populace with 52 percent urban. Merely 25 percent of whites live in the central city, but 58 percent of blacks, 51 percent of Hispanics, 46 percent of Asians, and 21 percent of Indians live there.

And the central city is becoming more ethnic. Detroit has 110 ethnic groups. Each group is separated from the others by invisible boundaries. There are 58 million culturally distinct peoples living in America's cities. It is estimated that only 14 million (24 percent) are active Christians. In some cities it is against the law to have a Bible study in a home. NYC has 190 nationalities in 2006. In NYC schools, half the students are from ethnic parents.

Urban diversity is most obvious in the Cortelyou neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. It is 29.2% Black, 22.4% Asian, 19.8% Hispanic, 19.3% White and 9.3% others. However, most of these groups tend to live together in relatively homogenous neighborhoods.

The central city also includes shop owners and others who can afford to live in apartments in well guarded high rises. These upwardly mobile people have insulated themselves from much of society including the church, which many consider to be an anachronism left over from the Middle Ages.

The best residential areas have been purchased by the affluent who are the power brokers and decisions makers of the city. They live in expensive, high-rise condominiums located in neighborhoods like Chicago's Gold Coast, which spans an area five blocks by eight blocks and includes 70,000 residents. The average salary of $53,000 permits them to enjoy the best of the city, but according to one survey, for 99 percent that does not include the church. The affluent constitute a needy mission field.

Surrounding the central city in concentric rings are the suburbs. In these bedroom communities, centered on shopping areas, have gathered half of America's urban population. Many suburbanites fled the central city as their affluence permitted. Although many were once church members, as empty inner city churches bear witness, a large percentage of those who moved did not continue membership in the churches that followed them to the suburbs. A Southern Baptist survey of greater Los Angeles estimates that of the 14 million residents living in 100 communities, 7 million are unchurched. That may be typical of suburbanites across the United States.

Urban America includes an area where city meets country once called exurbia. Here in the ‘edge city, consumer city or boomburbs’, as it is now called, the best of two worlds is sought. These areas, often unincorporated, have become the ‘hot spots’ for jobs, entertainment and residential growth. They are often larger than the urban core and are competing for economic importance. But, unfortunately for most people, distance from the church is a major factor in their not becoming actively involved in Christianity.

The 1990 census indicates that 74 percent of Americans live in urban population centers of 50,000 or more. This means that 175,000,000 people live in urban America. G. Paul Musselman suggests that most of America's 100 million unchurched reside in the city; therefore, at least one-half of all urbanites are unchurched. The number of unchurched in America approximates the population of Japan or Brazil. In fact, the number of unchurched Americans is surpassed by the population of only three countries in the world  China, India, and Indonesia. Indeed, urban North America is a mission field.

It is naive to believe that urban America will be won to Christ by mass evangelism or any in-house church evangelism programs. The complexities of the city require that the church galvanize her missionary vision and forces not only to see the masses congregating in the cities of the world but also here at home. But at present the urban church is in deep trouble.


The twenty-first century call for emphasis on urban evangelization in North America and internationally is not without biblical precedent. The word city is mentioned over 669 times in the Bible, with 571 in the O.T., and 98 in the N.T.. God spoke emphatically about the city when He remonstrated with Jonah, “Should I not be concerned for that great city… of a hundred and twenty thousand people… [Nineveh, the largest of that day]…”  Jonah 4:11.

 One hundred nineteen cities are mentioned by name in the Bible. Christianity began in a city and spread from city to city along the trade routes of the urbanized Roman world. The disciples saw the city as the key to the expansion of the Christian church, for their Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ, ministered with them in the towns and villages of their day (Matthew 9:35-38).

The great New Testament missionary Paul was a metropolitan man, having been reared in Tarsus, an important city (Acts 21:39), and educated in Jerusalem. It was while on the way to Damascus that Paul was saved, and Antioch, the "Queen of the East," was where he began his missionary career. Paul traveled 6,000 miles as an urban missionary, establishing churches in important cities throughout the Mediterranean world.

One key to the successful spread of Christianity during the first three centuries of that era was the urban strategy established by Paul. That strategy, coupled with the message of the cross of Christ as proclaimed by discipled laymen, could be just as effective in evangelizing the twenty-first century urban world.

The city, has a checkered history, spiritually speaking. In Genesis it is recorded that "as men moved eastward, they found a Plain in Shinar and settled there". Then they decided "to build ourselves a city, with a Tower that reaches to the heavens". Geologists have revealed that many such Towers [called zigarats] were built in the Plain of Shinar [Iraq]. On the top of those zigarats were temples to the god of the city. It is recorded that God was not happy with the proliferation of idol worship; therefore, "the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth... so they stopped building the city." However, wherever man went he continued to congregate in groups which became cities. Those cities grew as roads and transportation made it possible to provide food for cities to grow.

Whenever men congregate it seems the adamic nature tends to cause them to develop sinful practices, such as sorcery [Acts 8:9]. Genesis records the history and destruction of the wickedness of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah [Gen 19:1-6]. John was told to write to the angel of the church in the city of Pergamum, "I know where you live--where Satan has his your city--where Satan lives" [Rev. 2:13]. Zechariah wrote of a vision of a woman in a basket with a lead lid. He was told that this scene represented the "iniquity of the people throughout the land". This basket was being taken "to the  Land of Shinar to build a house for it". Could this be rebuilt Babylon, the "Great City of Power" [Rev 18:10] which would "be consumed by fire" [Rev 18:8]?

 It is written that the Lord told King David, "I have chosen Jerusalem for My Name to be there.." and Solomon "will build the temple for my Name" [II Ch 6:6 & 9]. This Jerusalem has had a difficult history, but there will be a "Holy City, the New Jerusalem in which God will dwell with men [Rev 21:3,10: 3:12]. "There will be no Temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its Temple" [Rev 21:22].


In 1790 only two cities in the United States had a population of 25,000. They were New York City and Philadelphia. Within a century 1,070 cities [Metropolitan Areas or MAs] with that population had developed. Today, 78 percent of all Americans live in metropolitan areas. As urban areas grew with ease of commuting on Interstate highways, new designations were needed to identify sprawling, strip cities. In 1993 the Bureau of Census defined a Consolidated Metropolitan Statisitical Area [CMSA] as one large population nucleus or central city [PMSA] and surrounding outlying counties, or suburbs [MSAs] that maintain close commuting ties with the central city. One CMSA may contain several PMSAs and several MSAs with over a million inhabitants each, such as the Los Angeles CMSA of 14.5 million. The government lists 60 CMSAs, each with over one million population. Note that included are 429 central cities, 629 counties, and 556,000 square miles of land. This means that 78 percent of Americans live on 16 percent of the land.

Metropolitan New York is the largest [CMSA], with a population of 24 million, which is more than live in most states except CA [34 million] or about the size of the state of Texas (27 million) or the population of Sri Lanka  [which is No. 51 in population size of 223 countries listed in the 2001 Statistical Abstract. This means that Metro NYC is larger in population than 77% of the countries of the world]. NYC is said to be the “capitol of the world”. NYC is the world’s most diverse global city with its residents coming from 170 nations, speaking over 800 languages. It is said that 60% of its citizens are foreign born. There are 2 million Jews, 800,000 Muslim, 400,000 Hindus,650,000 Chinese, 50,000 International Students, 48% residents speak other than English, involving 69 People Groups. [see:ethNYcity]

Urban growth in the United States was encouraged by a series of historical events. First, European immigration peaked between 1860 and 1945 as 27 million immigrants arrived and settled in Metropolitan places. Second, an expanding economy gave rise to new industries, which provided jobs. Third, the development and mass production of the automobile between 1920 and 1940 made it possible for what was traditionally a walking city to expand into the suburbs. A fourth factor was the institution of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) in 1934. The FHA made credit available for the purchase of suburban homes.

Finally, an upwardly mobile society provided movement within the social, political, economic, and religious sectors of society. Cities were established near transportation centers. Labor was available from the ethnic communities, which developed near the industries. Old World patriarchal family patterns persisted in these communities, which were run by an ethnic, political party boss. That assured a steady supply of cheap labor for industry and jobs for newcomers to this land.

Most European family members were raised to be hard workers. The older family members sacrificed for the younger members and encouraged them to get an education. By frugal living, frugal management, sacrifice, hard work and education, economic advancement made it possible to move to the suburbs. This exodus made room for new immigrants.

The system worked efficiently until a new series of historic events radically altered the balance of life in the city. By the end of World War II (1945), the concept of an ever-expanding economy was discovered to be more accurately described as an oscillating economy with serious recessions.

Second, there was a complete change in the source of manpower. European immigration gave way to black migration from the South and Asian and Latin émigrés. Third, the system of ethnic political bosses in the city was replaced with a more democratic party system. At the same time the federal government began its welfare program. Finally, the civil rights movement manifested to the country that a vastly different attitude of life was altering the psyche of America's inner cities.

The work ethic of the Europeans was not shared by the new workers. The entrance of dark-skinned peoples into the cities of the North sparked latent racist attitudes of residents and employers. Ethnic composition of communities rapidly shifted. Industries moved out. Taxes escalated as leaders sought to maintain services even as the economic base eroded. The quality of education and services declined and housing deteriorated. Then, the churches closed their doors as the white middle class abandoned the elderly and the new ethnics by moving to the suburbs.

The cycle of upward mobility, albeit more slowly, continues to function in urban America. Blacks and Hispanics are gaining better education and jobs. They, too, are moving to the suburbs. Refugees and Latin Hispanics are the new source of cheap labor. Racist attitudes are diminishing. Immigration to the inner city was down by 3 percent during the 1970s. In the same period the suburbs received a 14 percent in-migration, so that now 45 percent of all Americans are suburbanites.

A new trend has developed called gentrification. In recent years, suburban whites have been moving back to the central city and purchasing old property. After renovating it, they are taking up personal residence in the inner city once again. The trend is not strong, for central city population numbers are basically stable.

Urbanization continues at a much slower rate since it peaked in the decade of the 1950s at 18.5 percent. During the 1960s it slowed to 13.3 percent and has now fallen to 11.4 percent. However, American metroplexes are expected to continue to grow as urban sprawl follows the interstate road system. With fast, efficient transportation and communication, industry is able to move to areas with cheaper taxes and nonunion labor markets.

Metropolitan Los Angeles, a World City, is the most widespread city in the country. In fact, Los Angeles has more incorporated cities within its sprawl than some states. It seeks to maintain 600 miles of streets and 722 miles of subway tracks. It has 120 language communities that, someone has said, are looking for a city. One thousand people, mostly ethnics, are added daily to this city of 16.4 million, which is already 2/3 rds nonwhite. It claims to have the nations largest concentration of Mexicans, Central Americans, Koreans, Filipinos, Indochinese and Samoans. Also 250,000 Armenians, which is the largest community outside of Soviet Armenia. The third-largest concentration of Jews [115 centers] after New York City and Tel Aviv live in LA.  There are said to be thousands of K’anjobel Indians of Guatamal living in downtown LA. There are 325 Buddhist centers, 113 Muslim, 66 Hindu, 17 Sikh & 10 Taoist.. 31 million visitors spend $13 billion annually, stay in 232 hotels, eat in 17,000 restaurants and visit 150 museums.

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, has the largest concentration of Somalians and Oromo, [Ethiopian people group], the second largest concentration of Liberians and Tibetan Buddhists in the US. The ethnic presence equals one in six in the metro area. World Relief has a presence here to aid in their settlement and have established an ethnic ministry entitled, Twin Cities Ethnic Partnership [TCEP] as a pilot program for other cities. It’s objective is to seek to partner established churches to work alongside of ethnic churches. More information can be found at: Ethnic America Network Foundation [2000] maintains a Databas of Ethnic People Groups. They also maintain a Summit of 3 days to encourage multicultural ministries

America is now a nation of cities that are growing more complex.

Coastal Living. More than half [54% of all Americans live within 50 miles of the shore line. They live in 772 coastal counties adjacent to the Atlantic [60 million] and Pacific Oceans [34 million], the Gulf of Mexico [16 million], and the Great Lakes [26 million]. Population density has increased from 106 to 152 persons per square mile in these counties. A major reason for this growth may be attributed to the fact that seven of the country’s ten largest cities: NYC, LA, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego and Detroit are located in these coastal areas.  Only Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio are not included.

ETHNIC PHENOMENON OF THE CITIES. The Industrial Revolution created jobs which fueled the great exodus from the farms to the cities. It also was a magnet for immigration from more European countries. The need for food in the cities provided jobs for migrant workers in the burgening farming industry, primarily from the Spanish world. However, the great numbers of Hispanics have settled in the cities: Los Angeles 6 million, New York Metro. 5 million, etc. Then folks from the Pacific Rim countries began a whole new immigrant cultural mix to the cities, including ancient Asian religions. The Arab Spring awakening of the sleeping giant of Islam convulsed numerous countries of MENA by unleashing a radical Islmaic Jihadism such as the modern world had never experienced. This sent myriads of Muslim Refugees to our ciites, includin their Mosques, Malls, foods and clothing, such as in Minneapolis, MN.

El Cajon, CA, is called "Little Baghdad" with 60,000 Iraquis. San Francisco, CA, has "Little Kabul" with 10,000 Afghans, Seattle, Minneapolis & /columbus have 100,000 Somalis. St Louis has somewhere between 35,000 & 60,000 Bosnians. Detroit is home to 10s of 1000s of Muslim. Hickory, NC houses 10,000 Hmong.

D.                THE URBAN CHURCH

The urban church from the beginning was essentially a church that ministered to the more affluent of society. Denominations were careful to build large, pointed edifices, which at first dominated the cityscape. Downtown churches were established in the heavily commercial areas and ministered to the leadership of the city. By the dawn of the twentieth century, steam hammers drowned out church bells, church steeples were dwarfed by skyscrapers, and business became more important than belief. The Protestant city was in transition.

Ethnic language churches were slowly established by those who preferred their Old World language and had been brought up to be God-fearers. These churches were exclusively for those who lived in prescribed areas and maintained their cultural identity, because people have difficulty fellowshiping with persons having different social and cultural life-styles. Most churches were not able to become culturally heterogeneous even in a multicultural society. That characteristic led to the ultimate failure of the urban church when the ethnic character of the community changed. With urbanization and secularization, the church was faced with its most serious challenge.

Black churches were established, but they were often of a storefront variety and lacked a trained clergy. Jewish missions have always been an urban ministry, but affluent Jews were among the earliest to move to the suburbs. Missions moved also, and the elderly Jews who were fearfully living out their days in guarded high rises were forgotten. The skid row ministries are the mainstay of early urban church outreach. They have remained and are doing an effective ministry among those who are down and out.

Some churches remained and designed effective ministries to minister in the changing urban setting, but most "liberal and evangelical Christians were quick to surrender their witness and mission”.

The Keystone Baptist Church in Chicago is one church that did remain. Among its innovative new ministries is the West Side Family Center, which is a Christian social service agency Many inner city people have special needs for services they cannot afford. This agency helps provide medical, legal, and counseling service.

Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, founded in 1847, is another inner city church that has remained. Stephen Olford, when asked how Calvary has managed to do so, replied, "The secret is primarily preaching."

Urban Americans are essentially unevangelized because the central city church moved. It failed to see its total community and ministered in a clublike manner only to its own kind of people. It neglected the spiritual needs of numerous others in the community and then failed to notice the changing character of the neighborhood. As church members moved away and the congregation failed to bring in new members from the community. As early as 1920 it was reported that "efforts put forth by Protestant churches to reach alien immigrants have been feeble. The church is not appealing to the working man in the city." Finally, the church admitted its failure and fled to the suburbs, leaving the central city as a mission territory.

Not only did the central city church fail, but the suburban church is also failing. Most suburbanites, happy to be in the promised land halfway between nature's beauty and civilization's conveniences, feel little responsibility toward those who live in the inner city. One suburban pastor confesses, "My members just don't feel the need to reach the city of Detroit." However, clergy and laity alike in American Protestantism seem to suffer from an  "anti-urban animus " It is reported that "inner city people are unwanted by society, which includes most Christians." Even ministers, including Protestant ministers, have negative attitudes toward the city.

The suburban church has also failed to reach its own community. Quietly and steadily over the last decade particularly, suburbia has received an ever increasing number of ethnics. The census reveals that not only do 48 percent of white Americans live in the suburbs, but that 44 percent of Asians, 37 percent of Hispanics, 27 percent of Indians, and 23 percent of blacks live there also. Suburbia is, therefore, culturally diverse.

It would appear that the problem of urban evangelism is larger than merely the failure of the urban church. It is a problem that needs to be faced by the evangelical church at large, which has sought to evangelize the city by means of mass media including radio, television and literature, and mass campaigns. Although evangelistic campaigns can attract huge crowds, at least 25 percent of city dwellers will not attend a church or campaign. Some who labor in urban ministries are convinced that the city will most effectively be won by the personal witness of born-again believers who commit themselves to the city for Christian service. James Speer, a Brooklyn pastor, articulates this concept:

“The central city is not without Christian witness ... but in terms of effective witness there's as much dearth in the cities as there is in Zaire. It's a mistake for us to assume that people are really going to grasp the meaning of the gospel through television. Jesus commissioned people; he sent people .... We really do assume that if we have a Christian radio station in a major city that that's getting the gospel out.”

However, the city suffers from benign neglect and little concern on the part of evangelical Christians. It is "almost as if God had abandoned the city or never had anything to do with it."

The evangelical church must reassess its priority of ministries. According to Acts 1:8 the priority should be first, Jerusalem and Judea; second, Samaria; and third, the uttermost parts. The first priority is being addressed, and the foreign ministry is very effective. New effort is also being made to reach the newly recognized 17,000 unreached people groups around the world. However, it is precisely the success of the foreign mission effort that causes the dearth of urban ministry to stand out in stark contrast. It appears that "American Christians have tended to ignore or avoid ... urban evangelism."

It is to be remembered that the Samaritans were also ignored and avoided by the Jews. Thomas Hopler, formerly a foreign missionary and now working in urban United States under the Africa Inland Mission, voices the frustration of many: "Why are so many personnel and millions of dollars invested overseas while little concern is expressed for the cities of our own country?"

It is strange that the evangelical church is not ready to reach out to the urban mission field of America, especially when one realizes that it is in fact foreign missions. Although the Southern Baptists have the most extensive urban work in the United States, only 10 percent of their churches are in urban settings. One pastor explains that most Southern Baptists are rural people and that ghettos are as foreign to their people as any foreign country. Jere Allen observes that of nearly 3000 Southern Baptist churches in changing communities (urban), 70 percent are declining in Sunday school attendance.

The urban church has a unique opportunity to minister to some of America's most needy citizens. The city teems with every social disease imaginable. It seems that city life dehumanizes and warps lives. Transience, poverty, anonymity, fragmentation, and powerlessness can lead to a sense of despair. In fact, National Geographic magazine refers to South Bronx as the national capital of despair. Urbanites are people with many problems and are regarded and often regard themselves as failures.

The greatest challenge before the urban church is to learn to minister to its total community. By so doing, it will become aware of the changing character of the community. One survey reveals that over one-half of all urban churches are in transitional communities and that 2,000 urban churches each year disband or merge. Peter Wagner suggests that such churches are suffering from "ethnicitis," a terminal disease caused by inability to adapt to a changing community. If a church does not mirror the people in its community, it will ultimately die. Fr. Wayne, IN, is a city with several hundred internationals from 30 nations. A large number are Bantu from Somalia, Zaghai from Darfur, Sudan and Congolese from Congo-DRC.

In Atlanta, there is an Arab Baptist Church

In conclusion, America's cities are an extensive and needy mission field. In the opinion of Kenneth M. Meyers, then President of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, "the need for missions in the city is perhaps as great as the missionary need overseas, and Evangelicals cannot lag behind but must be in the vanguard of this outreach."

E.                 URBAN MINISTRIES

Facing urban American as a mission field can be confusing and bewildering. However, if the metropolitan area is considered in its several parts, the complexity is minimized. Suburban America's greatest need is for church planting. The larger segment of American society (45 percent) is concentrated around shopping centers; therefore, church planting mission organizations are giving priority to establishing local churches in the suburbs, which can in turn evangelize those complexes by means of normal in-house evangelistic programs. Effective, growing suburban churches, which are training congregations of active discipling Christians, are the key to efficient world evangelization. From this base should emerge the vision, manpower, and funds to minister to the spiritual needs of rural America, central city America, and even to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Suburban church planting must include establishing ethnic churches that may well have congregations speaking in a language other than English, at least for some time to come. Ethnic suburban communities should provide excellent service opportunities for returned missionaries as well as internship experience for those directed to overseas ministry. For example, a tribe of hundreds and perhaps thousands of K'anjobal Indians of Guatemala are living in downtown Los Angeles. CAM (Central American Mission) International missionaries have discovered several Christians among them. Thriving ethnic churches should be the source of manpower for reaching the great number of émigrés who have come and will continue to come to the United States. Similarly, well-established suburban black and Indian churches ought to be an important key to evangelizing black and Indian America.

Urban America is not only being evangelized by home missionaries but is also receiving missionaries from overseas. The Haitian church is sending missionaries to establish churches among Haitian émigrés in Miami. Worldteam is one mission liaison between the Haitian and American Haitian communities. The Latin church is sending missionaries to work among American Hispanics. African missionaries are working among American blacks in Newark under the sponsorship of the Africa Inland Mission.

Central city, USA, is the place where church and mission are called on to extend themselves in the most creative ways possible to reach an area where the highest percentage of lost Americans reside. Not all central city churches disbanded or fled to the suburbs. Some remained and work valiantly to reach the sea of humanity that surges with the pulse of the city. One church declares that it stays alive through their mission program. The church has started thirteen mission works including three Spanish works. New churches with innovative programs are also being established. Tom Maharis went to Brooklyn as a missionary-supported church planter. He is now pastor of the Manhattan Bible Church, which supports him as pastor.

1.                  RESCUE MISSIONS

Some missionary activities in the inner city have a long and commendable record. Rescue missions began in 1872 when the McCauley Water Street Mission was founded in New York City to minister to drunken sailors and other alcoholics. Today most cities have at least one skid row mission. The ministry has greatly expanded over the years to include work among drug addicts, destitute families, homeless children, unwed mothers, the handicapped, prisoners, and the unemployed. The International Union of Gospel Missions, a fellowship representing 230 missions and 1,000 missionaries, suggests that the inner city is a vast mission frontier not reached for Christ. It is a field that calls for trained, creative, ambitious workers (see chapter 11).

2.                  JEWISH MISSIONS

Another early ministry is to the Jews, for Jewish missions are essentially urban. In 1885 the Chicago Hebrew Mission began its ministry of Jewish evangelism and continues to minister under its new name, the American Messianic Fellowship. Another fifty missions sponsoring 400 missionaries also minister in numerous cities. Yet, the Jew in his urban home is virtually unevangelized. Daniel Fuchs, director of the American Board of Missions to the Jews, suggests that part of the reason for the lack of Jewish evangelism is that there are many Jewish communities in the city in which there is no longer an evangelical church; therefore, it is not only necessary to evangelize the Jew but also to plant churches for his edification (see chapter 7).

3.                  ALL KINDS OF MINISTRIES

Every kind of missionary service discussed in the preceding chapters is needed in the central city and more, because there are such great numbers of people pressed into so little space. Masses of people make the spiritual needs much more obvious. In the city, because sin is so visible, it appears to be more sinful, but in reality there is just more of it. The most difficult thing to understand about sin in the inner city is the urbanite's callused attitude toward it and his unwillingness to help someone in trouble. There is a total lack of concerned community spirit. Everyone has learned to live in his own shell, created in the midst of an incessant bombardment of endless stimuli.

Missionaries who serve in the inner city must understand the city and the special world its people create. Dedication and commitment to service in the asphalt jungle is no less demanding than service in any faraway jungle. Ken Davis comments,

We urgently need pioneer missionary efforts in most of our metropolitan areas....May it not be said that too little came too late or that we were so occupied with evangelizing the steaming jungles of Afro-Asia that we forgot the teeming asphalt jungles of Metro-America.

There are also special kinds of missionary activity in the inner city because of the prevalence of certain kinds of evil. Teen Challenge was developed by Dave Wilkerson to minister to gang leaders and gang-bangers (members) in New York City. Gangs are created for personal protection and identity and function as an extended family. It is almost impossible to leave a gang, although most gang members will end up dead or in jail. Every city has its gangs. Chicago has 150 gangs with 5,000 members. The age of the members is usually 13 to 18, but may span the ages from 9 to 40. Most of the members are unemployed, poor, and unmarried. The gang is usually involved in drugs, guns, crime, and prostitution. Most members have or will have a police record. The Justice Department estimates there are 21,400 gangs nationwide with 731,500 members engaged in numerous illegal activities. In 1993 there were 1362 gang related homicides. In 2003 there were 934.

Because of the high crime rate in the inner city, Duane Pederson founded the Children's Mission as a ministry of Prison Volunteers. The ministry is to the children of inmates, street kids, and disadvantaged youngsters who, without direction, will probably drift into crime and ultimately into prison. This preventive ministry provides clubs, camps, meals, tutoring, recreation, and spiritual encouragement to neglected and often abused children who are mostly from single parent homes. These youngsters daily face alcohol, drug abuse, and the prospect of being sold for child pornography and prostitution. Pederson's vision is to expand the ministry to fifty centers in ghetto areas in the next ten years.

Several other ministries to inner city youth also exist. Covenant House [there are 21 CS in cities] is a ministry to youth under 21 years of age, most of whom are runaways. In New York City alone there are 20,000 runaways under 16 years of age and thousands more between the ages of 16 and 21. What will these unemployable "throwaway kids" do in the city? They drift to the Minnesota Strip, a fifteen-block stretch of Eighth Avenue porno parlors, strip joints, pizza palaces, cheap bars, and fleabag hotels, and wander among the thousands of drifters, hookers, pimps, and johns until they join a stable of children whose bodies are rented by the hour. Over one-half of these teenage prostitutes are boys. Most of them are afflicted with venereal diseases and tuberculosis and are hooked on drugs. A reader's Digest article likened Times Square to a "scene straight out of hell." The founder of Covenant House, a Roman Catholic priest, demands of his 200 volunteer workers that they spend three hours daily in prayer.

Emmaus Ministries, ministers to the ‘night community’ of Chicago. They are the hustlers, homeless men, dropouts and prostitutes.

INNER CITY IMPACT [1972] under the direction of Bill Dillon, has targeted the inner city kids of Humbold Park, Logan Square and Cicero, with an amazing track record of impacting Chicago's youth. Their mission:  "To present the living Christ, primarily to unchurched inner city children and youth, discipling and integrating them into a local church".

Children’s Bible Fellowship maintains Camp Joy in the beautiful mountains of New York where they take inner city kids out of the city environment for a brief time. For many it is the first time they have seen the country, and for most it is the first real encounter they have with a group of Christians who live agape love before them. Rev. Jim Wycliffe, then president of CBF, says that the Camp Joy experience is vital to their church planting in the Bronx. In March 1995 the Harvest Bible Church was planted using the philosophy, “The job’s not done until the family is won and integrated into the local church”. Thousands of churches are needed in the inner city. CBF also maintains a camping ministry for handicapped called Camp Hope.

HOMELESS: It is estimated that there are two million homeless in the US. New York City also has 36,000 homeless, who sleep in train and bus terminals, subways, or in cardboard boxes on the streets. The city provides 4,000 beds for the destitute and homeless. Studies reveal that one-half of the city's homeless are mentally disturbed. Spiritual and physical help for these "dregs of society" is available from the Salvation Army and rescue missions, but they cannot possibly reach the total community of two million box people. Campus Crusade for Christ has a ministry to homeless called "Here's Life Inner City, based in NYC, but with ministry across the nation.

Saint Paul's House is a hotline telephone ministry to Brooklynites who feel they have no one who cares. Those who call are counseled to help them find answers to their problems in Christ instead of joining the thousands who, in despair, commit suicide. They also provide breakfasts and 'pack the pantry' food distribution.

At least two organizations minister in the city by way of sound trucks. Open Air Campaigners [OAC]1956 and Pocket Testament League [PTL], 1893 using specially equipped trucks to amplify their message, work with local churches to do street evangelism. The local churches do the follow-up. OAC goes out on the streets with a Chalk Board to do open air evangelism on city streets. PTL claims 581,000 members who cary a pocket testament to give to someone that day as a Christian testimony.

Finally, there is a need for high-rise evangelism. This work is difficult at best because many high-rise buildings are locked to nonresidents and at least one-half of the apartment dwellers go away on weekends. One strategy for high-rise evangelism is to establish house churches in the building. It may require that the missionary live in the building and start with his apartment as the first house-church. Other flats can become house churches as their occupants are won to Christ.

Serious problems face the urban missionary. Those problems include a firm commitment to accept urban America as a bona fide mission field. There are problems related to housing such as availability, cost, and location. If there are children, there are the problems of quality education and safety. The potential problem of personal racial bias and other problems must be addressed. The missionary must be flexible and find it easy to initiate new ideas and programs, for cultural heterogeneity demands diversity of approaches. Several schools offer programs designed to prepare missionaries for urban minorities.

Problems related to this ministry include transiency, unemployment, fear, crime, vandalism, and anonymity of the people. The missionary faces concentrations of people who are poor and living with endless problems. He will also wrestle with the issue of how involved the ministry should be in the social and physical problems of the community. Should he establish a clinic-in-a-van to administer a program of preventative medicine as did the Conservative Baptist Home Mission (CBHM) in New York City? Or, as the CBHM, establish a counseling center with health and legal services such as the West Holistic Family Center in Chicago? Or, as Emmaus Ministries, minister to the ‘night community’ of Chicago’s hustlers, homeless men, dropouts and prostitutes.

In the 21st C.began an amazing interest in the internatiionals who have come to make American cities their home. The Lausanne Conference of 2010 began to look at what they called, "Diaspora Missions" focusing on the 250 million peoples on the move. Out of the conference in 2011 the 'Mission America Coalition for American Cities' [MAC] was formed to launch a prayer initiative for the people groups God was sending to our American cities. In 2012 'Ethnic Embrace USA' formed a coalaition of MAC and Ethnic America Network, to foreward prayer for "new people groups making America home". Payne of EEUSA said, "we have often overlooked peoples who have migrated to the USA... the largest immigrant-receiving country in the world". Thirty Days of Prayer were organized for Muslim Peoples in the US during Ramadan, in which they highlighted the 30 largest [over 8,000 each] Muslim groups. The emphasis was to increase awareness of reaching the nations in your community.

The Joshua [1995] has an amazing interactive map locating extensive information about various people groups by hovering over a particular location on the map. They reveal there are 488 people grous calling  the USA home. For instance: 568,000 Iraguis, 111,000 Palestinians, 135,000 Bengalis, 175,000 Thai, 331,000 Persians, etc.

Frontier Ventures [2015] formerly Frontier Mission Fellowsip [1990] formerly US Center for World Missions [1976] of Ralph Winters fame, publishes Frontier Ventures Magazine as a bimonthly with articles highlighting current mission trends. In the 2015 March-April edition was an article entitled, "Imacting the Unreached In Our Own Backyard" In the article it is stated, "Many Unreached peoples of the world have come to us.. Like a Master chess player, God has moved representatives of of the world, and plucked them down in our midst... you have not gone to them... so I have brought them to you".

There are numerous sites offering information on US ministriy opportunities:;;; ethNYcity; globalgates

Ethnic ministries involves language speaker other than English; therefore, information about these languages can be accessed through [1951] which notes there are currently 7,000 living langs.

F.                 CONCLUSION

The intensity of the spiritual needs of urban America needs to be urgently faced by the evangelical church. The question is asked, "What will it take before we realize that God means business when He tells us to go to Nineveh? For modern Jonahs, Nineveh is the inner city." For far too many suburban Americans, the inner city is just a place to pass through on the way to work. Without question there is a need for suburban Americans to be reminded that they are, in fact, a part of the inner city and have a responsibility to help develop a strategy to reach the hostile in the central city. Yes, the whole evangelical church should be concerned for the metro areas and send the best missionaries the church can produce. Yet, according to Peter Stam, then US director of Africa Inland Mission's urban ministry, it is harder to recruit workers for the inner cities than for the interior of Africa and equally difficult to raise support for them.

It would be helpful for evangelical periodicals to regularly address the needs of those in the city so that the Christian community at large can become aware of the suffering there. URBAN MISSION is one such periodical. It is also necessary that the evangelical church develop a plan whereby urban Americans will be included in their evangelistic agenda. David Hesselgrave declares, "Any community of people without an accessible church--whether they reside in North America or South Africa--is a mission field."

Finally, many have searched for the true meaning of the city and have concluded with Jacques Ellul that the city is the supreme work of man and as such represents man's ultimate rejection of God. Let us have no traffic with the prophets of doom but rather evangelize the city as commanded by God.


1. Center for Urban Theological Studies (CUTS) Cooperative program:

     a. Westminster Seminary, Chestnut Hill, PA 19119

     b. Geneva College

2. Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUP) Annual Congress on Urban

    Ministry, 30 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60610

3. Summer Institute for Urban Missions (SIUM) Simpson College, 801 Silver Avenue, San

    Francisco, CA 94134

4. Moody Bible Institute

5. Most seminaries

·         URBAN MISSION, published by Westminster Theological Seminary, Editor: Harvey Conn, P O Box 27009, Philadelphia, PA 19118 [quarterly]

·         THE URBAN ALTERNATIVE VIEW, Dr. Tony Evans, P O Box 4000, Dallas, TX 75208 [monthly]

·         METRO-VOICE, Board of Church Extension & Home Missions, Church of God,  P O Box 2069, Anderson, IN 46018

·         URBAN UPDATE, Emmanuel Gospel Center, P O Box 18245, Boston MA 02118

·         COSTLY MISSION, Michael Duncan, MARC, 121 E Huntington Dr, Monrovia, CA 91016-3400 [1996] On the slums of Manila.

·         CIRCLE URBAN MINISTRIES, The Reconciler, quarterly newsletter, 118 N. Central Ave., Chicago, IL 60644.

·         Research for cities on the Internet,   711-net Christian Internet Assistance


Also listed are locations and mission emphases.

1. Africa Inland Mission (Newark, New Jersey: urban church planting among blacks)

2. American Missionary Fellowship (urban church planting)

3. Baptist Mid-Missions (urban church planting)

4. Children's Bible Fellowship (New York City: handicapped, camp, inner city)

5. Children's Mission (Bible clubs, camps for urban children, see Prison Ministries)

6. Christians United Reaching Everyone (Cincinnati: urban youth)

7. CityTeam Ministries (International Center for Urban Training, CA0

7. Harlem Evangelistic Association (blacks)

8. Inner City Impact (Chicago: Humboldt Park, church planting; Puerto Rican, youth ministry)

9. Jews (see chapter 9)

10. Navigators (city community ministry)

11. Open Air Campaigner (urban evangelization)

12. Pocket Testament League (sound trucks in urban area)

13. Reaching Urban Neighborhoods [RUN], (NYC, Philadelphia, Washington, DC)

14. St. Paul's House (New York City; telephone ministry)

15. Teen Challenge (New York City; addicts, camp)

16. Teen Haven of Christian Youth Services, Inc. (Philadelphia, Buffalo, Washington, DC, Lancaster, P.)

17. Teens, Inc. (South Bend, Ind.; inner city youth, Camp Ray Bird)

18. United Missionary Fellowship (New York: urban church planting)

19. Whispering Hills Mission (Rochester, New York: inner city)

20. Word of Life Camp and Club (youth)

21. Young Life (urban youth)















HABBM (Hispanic Assoc. of Bilingual Bicultural Min












Mexican Christian Mission, Inc















KOL Emith Messianic Jewish Outreach

The Urban Life Source Connection